EK Interview: Hold Up Art Gallery

Hold Up Art Gallery is a contemporary art gallery in the heart of downtown Los Angeles , 2 blocks South of The Geffen Contemporary MOCA. 358 E. 2nd St. open tuesday- sunday  On September 8th they are hosting a show by the name of Epilogue by Hugh Leeman, Eddie Colla and Dave Young.

The mission statement of the Hold Up Art Gallery states that education is at the forefront, how do you go about this?  What kind of education do you provide?  Why is it important to provide free art education?

The contemporary art world is a scary one to get into.  Education for us plays a role in helping to get our audience and customers to understand more about the context in which the art we curate sits, as well as the industry standards, like the difference between a giclee and a digital print.  Until the audience knows the difference and knows what it is they are interested in buying, they will be much less likely to get into buying art.  We position ourselves as a gallery to help people get into the world of contemporary art, and education typically is the highest barrier to entry.  When you come into our gallery, our staff actively engages the viewer to help encourage dialogue and discussion.

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The gallery is described as a contemporary art museum, how long do you think it will be before contemporary art finds it’s way into museums and other places of prestige?  How recently does a piece have to be made to be considered ‘contemporary’ by your standards?

Contemporary art is already in museums, look at the MOCA, the museum of contemporary art, they only curate contemporary artists and exhibitions.  Contemporary has two definitions, contemporary with a little c is just any art created today, Contemporary with a big C is the period of art between pop art and now, typically it is a very broad term to talk about the different movements that have sprouted up since.  We are already moving a way from Contemporary through new movements like street art.

Why are have you chosen to focus on contemporary art?  How is the content of contemporary art different from previous styles of art?

Contemporary fascinates us because it is happening now.  When you look at any culture’s contemporary art production, you have a fairly interesting barometer on the socio political climate.  Today’s art, specifically the art we are curating tends to be eccentrically la in nature.  Our proximity to Hollywood as well as pop culture has greatly influenced the direction of art in California.

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Why is it that each new style has to go through a trial period before it can be considered ‘art’?  Do you think stencils, graffiti, and other contemporary art, will ever be held in the same regard as Cubism, Realism, Impressionism and so on? Is there a reason why or why not?

I don’t look at it as a trial period.  Most all art movements originate from a fringe, and move towards the center.  The “trial period” is merely that time it takes to go from the fringe, a sub culture, towards the center, what is currently popular.  Street art, and most any worldwide popular art craze, will most definitely make the  history books exclusively due to it’s popularity.  All art movements are studied because there was a) a large population of artists exploring the same notions, or b) the implications of the movement has influenced the greater direction of art.

What about street art makes it so different than the artistic styles?  Do you think there is something inherently social or political to it?

Street art has become popular because of a) it’s immediacy, and in that it’s ability to quickly adapt and change, and b) yes there is something very sociopolitical in nature which makes it very attractive.

A). Traditionally art has changed from exhibition to exhibition, from magazine publication to the next.  Now street artists can post new flicks on fb, and the audience can interact and follow on a daily basis, it plays directly into our consumer nature we’ve created through social media and the internet.

B). Today’s culture has so much wrong with it, and much of these hidden truths are starting to emerge, ie the inherent flaws in capitalism showing up in 2008.  We have a very heightened sense of politics today, especially with social medias as a new, second hand source of information.  People today are ready to move away from aesthetically driven art, much of what we’ve seen all of the late 90s till mid 2000s.

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How were you approached by Hugh, Dave and Eddie about the Epilogue show?  Have any of them exhibited at the Hold Up Art Gallery before?

Eddie and I go back almost 2 years by now when he first participated in our Marxist Glue exhibition back in oct of 2010.  He just hit me up to see if I would be interested in hearing out the show, and after hearing his elevator pitch i was sold.

Tell us why, from your perspective, you decided to host the Epilogue show, what does it mean to you at the gallery?

The show is a very exciting show as it takes the notion of the group show to e next level.  Typically these past two years have seen hundreds of street art shows, but in general most of the, fall flat.  People just throw pieces together and expect to make an impact.  These three guys are truly leveraging the nature of street art on a conceptual level, quicker turn around, social commentary, and collaboration.

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Why do you think street art so often addresses social and political issues?  What is it about the nature of street art that makes it so aimed at questioning and calling to attention these facets of our world?  Is it in any way tied to the transience of the media?

The transience of street art really play into the viability.  It forces people to take more photos and document the art.  Documentation becomes a part of the art.  Like as I said above, street artists produce much more often and interact more with their fan base, making it a great art form for social media.

Some artists, Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Blek Le Rat, Space Invader, to name a few, have seemed to gain prominence as street artists, but by and large it is not considered a media that is necessarily on par with the more traditional forms such as painting or printing.  Do you agree with such a statement?  Why do you think this is?  And do you think that will change?

I think it will just take time before it becomes more critically received.  We really have only seen this art style taken seriously by artists for the past 5 years.  As we have seen through history, most styles take center stage and go through three real transitions.  The first period, the invention and standard setting period happened for street art before it came into the lime light.  You have legends like Banish and Shepard Fairey who have defined the scope.  The past three years, during the elevation of street art to the center stage we have seen the fine tuning stage, of mastering the initial values and core concepts set forth and defining the “stylistic conventions” and their ideal archetypes.  We see folks like Eddie Colla who are more conscious of where they sit within this emerging history.  The final stage, which I believe will be happening through 2014, is the embellishment period, of pushing the core values to their extremes, as well as introducing potential new directions and possibilities.  This phase tends to either set up the next movement as a successor of street art, or in the adverse case of a reaction to street art.  We saw this with pop art as an adverse reaction to abstract expressionism.  Street art in general, I predict, will have a relatively short time on center stage because of it’s reliance on social media as the main platform for consumption.  Street art will still exist for, probably ever, but as a movement dictating the direction of fine art for only so long.

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What is the most important lesson you feel that the Hold Up Art Gallery can teach?

Art is for everyone, just like movies and music, you just need to take the time to understand the context and history, and try hard to find something you like.

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